Archive for February 2008

Someone check on Les Alexander

February 26, 2008

The Houston Rockets got some devastating news today: center Yao Ming has a broken foot and will miss the remainder of the season. The Rockets were the hottest team in the league, winning 12 straight, and are in the midst of a battle for a playoff spot.

Yao

Rockets owner Les Alexander said “This is unbelievable. This is the most heart-breaking. This is the worst I’ve felt.” Jeez dude……have a drink. The dude broke a foot and your team might miss out on the 8 seed in the playoffs. The city of Houston didn’t explode.

This quote was eerily similar to Alexander’s quote when Vernon Maxwell was called for traveling in the third quarter of a pre-season game in 1994. “What happened on that court was a nightmare,” Alexander said at the time. “I’m going to go cut myself so I can feel something other than this pain.”

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How did the combine go for the Bears, you ask?

February 26, 2008

Cameron Worrell and Devin Hester

David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune wrote an interesting column today featuring questions he has since this past weekend at the combine. The obvious questions are about why the Bears are waffling between two quarterbacks that they aren’t too sure about and why either wouldn’t test the free agency waters. We all know they want competition at that position, but we’ll have to wait and see how well these two QB’s actually compete come September. Alan Faneca’s name has been thrown around alot, leading people to wonder how well the tandem of himself and Olin Kreutz would be next year. However there are major concerns that the Bears will really go after Faneca and another free agent like Michael Turner, with both New Orleans and Carolina looking closely at him as well. (Ummm no faith in Reggie as a full-time back then, huh, N.O.?)

There is also the obvious issue of Berrian, Briggs, and Ayanbadejo and the offers the Bears have made to them. I like Briggs, but he’s definitely looking for his pay day, as well he should. And Berrian would need to have a monster season this year no matter who’s under center to make it worth it to me. I also like Ayanbadejo, but we always have a new standout player on special teams each year (Cameron Worrell, anyone?), so why throw money at him when you clearly have other major areas that need fixing?

SIDE NOTE: Four degrees of separation: The Bears should have grabbed slot receiver Wes Welker because I think he’d be perfect in this offense, who came from the atrocious Miama Dolphins, who acquired Cameron Worrell from us, who I also liked on special teams when he was here, so I wonder when the Bears are going to get a great player from the Patriots to complete the circle of life?I don’t really care if they drop Griese because either Grossman has an amazing year or Orton has a decent year, passing for 100 yards and maybe a TD every game. Griese isn’t the answer and he didn’t play better than Grossman or Orton down the stretch. Who cares who he pissed off. He’s lucky to still be playing.

I’m going to have to say that again, we need to fix the O Line and running game to have a chance at a semi-productive offense, as well as bring back a healthy defensive unit that showed up towards the end of the season. If Glenn Dorsey’s tibia holds him to #14 in the draft, I’m not sure if we should draft him and take a chance like we did with Tommie Harris. If there is a potential O Line improvement when we get there, then I say we take a show there. This team has enough injury problems to worry about, although it is a tempting offer if he does drop that far in the draft.

Lastly, Urlacher showed up at the end of the season and he’s addressing his neck and back concerns in the offseason. The guy has consistently put up numbers since he’s been here and he’s the team’s leader, so whether you like him or not, let’s hope he comes back and has some games like he did late in 2007. We need him on the field and healthy. Let’s also hope Mike Brown can get a full season out of himself if for nothing else than to be a cheerleader for the defense. He’s great on the field but he’s about as durable as the condoms HHY used in college. It wasn’t a “comfortable” junior year for him, believe you me.

A Night at the U.C.

February 23, 2008

United Center

As I’ve mentioned before, I have partial season tickets to the Bulls this year. My friend Neil and I purchased 11 games, and this is the 8th we have had tics for. So far this year, we are 0-5, and we sold the tickets to the two other games. So obviously, this investment was turned out terrific for the two of us. Neil had been prodding me to write an entry about a Bulls game, a sort of Simmons-esque running diary of the experience of watching a Bulls game this year. We figured that Friday night’s game against the Denver Nuggets would be as good game as any to write about.

**-Upon waiting for Neil to show up at Gate 2 prior to the game, I watch the people enter the U.C. I then see a guy wearing the greatest jersey of the season so far, even better than the dude wearing an authentic Bears Kordell Stewart jersey a few months ago: this cat had a Trent Tucker jersey. Yeah, thats right. Trent. Tucker.
**-Neil shows up and we make our way up to the 300 level about 15 minutes prior to game time. We get our beers and then spend the next fifteen minutes before tip walking up the stairs to our seats, intermittedly stopping to get oxygen and check our heart monitors. Our seats aren’t that bad; we’re just out of shape and somewhat fat.
**-Finally, the game is about to start. Before the game, like at many sporting events now, the Bulls show a two or three minute highlight film which showcases past great Bulls and then eventually transitions to the key players of today. This year this film has been more comedic than anything for Neil and I. It starts out great…….the movie shows some of the underrated good players of the early 70s like Norm van Lier, Bob Love, and Jerry Sloan, and then shows the guys that we all grew up idolizing (Michael, Scottie, etc.). Then, when it comes time to show the “stars” of today, the names like Duhon, Hinrich, and Sefolosha seem pretty anti-climatic.
*–The game begins, and its already obvious to Neil and I that the 15 year old kid sitting behind us is going to provide us with an immense amount of entertainment. He’s probably watched about 6 NBA games in his life, yet he’s discussing strategies like he’s James Naismith. At one point, the Bulls get a technical foul for illegal defense, and the Nugs send Carmelo Anthony to the line to shoot the free throw. Probably a good call; he’s shooting 81 percent from the line this year. “Why do they have Carmelo shooting the free throw? A.I. is a much better shooter,” proclaims little Naismith. (By the way, Iverson is also shooting 81 percent–but is a career 76 percent free throw shooter compared to Anthony’s 82 percent).
**-A very entertaining first quarter is highlighted by the Bulls opening up a 33-21 lead, a few nice dunks, some very athletic blocked shots by Tyrus Thomas and Joakim Noah, and the teenage white trash couple in the two seats in front of us realizing they have made a grave mistake. By about the 4 minute mark of the 1st quarter, they realize our stupid heckling and inane comments, peppered with ‘fuck’ and ‘cocksucker’, don’t make for the best date atmosphere. The girl was pretty hot though.
**-Which brings me to another point: I never knew that Bulls games were such an attraction for underage ass. You would think Cubs games would be the go-to sporting events for jailbait in this town, and you’re probably right. But considering the U.C. isn’t exactly on the best side of town, Neil and I have both been really surprised at how many young girls go to these games by themselves. Honestly, the only thing that surprises us more is how drunk they get when we buy them one beer. Great investment for $5.50 guys.
**-By the mid-second quarter, Neil and I are discussing–loudly–our friend’s habit of letting his parents run his life despite being 31 years old. “Why’s John being such a pussy?”, I ask. “I don’t know, motherfucker…..he’s being a bitch.” Meanwhile, little James Naismith watches as Ben Gordon penetrates and puts up a wild layup attempt, missing badly. “He should of kicked it out to Noah!”, he says. “He was wide open from 22 feet!” Yes…..thats what the Bulls need. More perimeter opportunities for Joakim Noah.
**-Speaking of Noah, during a timeout, the Bulls do a ‘get-to-know-you’ thing with Joakim on the scoreboard. One of the questions is ‘Whats your dream job?’ Noah answers, ‘I’d like to run a fruit stand.’ Really? You’re making millions of dollars a year at age 22 playing a sport for a living, and your dream job is selling peaches to tourists for 20 dollars a day? Neil and I are stunned into silence by this.
**-The half ends with a crazy Bulls run, and suddenly the potent Chitown hoops club is up 68-55 at the intermission. The crowd is stunned, as are Neil and I. Little Naismith proclaims that this is what the Bulls should of been doing all along, “Just shooting.” What an offensive mastermind. “It also helps that they’re shooting 64 percent,” I say to Neil. Little Naismith seems upset, but Neil and I are too determined to get more beer.
**-While walking around the concourse during the half, a Bulls fan gets to really enjoy the wide variety of legal ass in the building. It must be the high-priced seats, but the hot soccer moms are out in full force during Friday and Saturday night games.
**-Neil decides to get in the Sweet Treats line for some halftime ice cream. “You’re gay,” I proclaim, and I leave him there to go back to our seats. As the third quarter starts, the Bulls are on fire, opening up a 20-point lead. Meanwhile, the couple sitting in front of us AND little Naismith and his family are all gone. Neil and I must have really been on our game.
**-By the time Neil comes back, the third quarter is almost over. With room to stretch out and only our friends, the fellow season ticket holders, around us, Neil and I get comfortable and loud. “This wouldn’t be happening if Fat Lever were still here,” I deadpan, loudly. “Where’s Alex English? I wanted to talk to him about his groundbreaking role in ‘Amazing Grace and Chuck!”, Neil says, exasperated. The NBA junkies sitting around us love it; others, not so much.
**-Meanwhile, the game has become the most exciting Bulls game Neil and I have been to since 1997. The Bulls are up 101-87 after three, and both teams are just running up and down the court, shooting and dunking. The guys a few rows behind us are good and drunk, and are thrilled because the Bulls have scored 100 and we now get free Big Macs. “I’m trying to get fed, fool!” and “I haven’t had a free Big Mac since that chickenhead I used to fuck was working the fryer back in 92!” are among the statements made. There really is nothing like the 300 level at a Bulls game. Neil and I are very excited that someone used the word ‘chickenhead’. Its about time that word came back.

(A “quick” story about that game in 97: the Bulls were playing the Sonics the year after they met in the Finals. The Bulls won in overtime as Michael hit two free throws after a, shall we say, suspicious foul call on Gary Payton with about a second left. It was a great game, but what made it really great were the other things that happened that night. We went with two girls, one of whom got the tickets from her dad’s work. The seats were awesome, in the 100 level just in front of the private suites. In fact, our seats were just in front of the suite used by Michael’s family, and we even got to talk to his mother. I think I thanked her for having her son. She was nice, saying “Ahhh…you’re welcome, sweetie,” and then I’m sure she called security. Also, the two girls we went with got on the big screenb during two seperate timeouts, mostly because one of them had blond hair and a huge rack. Then, after the game, Neil’s friend–who worked as a ballboy–asked us if we wanted to stand just outside the locker room and meet the players as they came out.

So we got down there, and we saw all the great players in that game come out, one by one. Payton, Shawn Kemp, Scottie, Rodman…..all of them. I shook hands with the great Luc Longley and told him ‘Great game Luc.’ I think he had about 6 points. He said “Thanks mate.” Yeah…..’mate.’ My girlfriend at the time, who we shall call ‘Hungry’, got a picture with George Karl. We saw Scottie’s woman go into the locker room and later come out with him, and needless to say she was ridiclously hot. But finally, the moment we had been waiting for…….Michael came out. My hero, three feet away. I don’t know if you’ve ever been around someone that famous, but if you’re not prepared for the experience, you swallow your tongue. You can’t say anything. Eventually, the big breasted blond yells out, in her whiter than white suburban girl voice, “Great game, buddy!” to Michael. Easily the funniest shit ever, as about 25 people then laughed and mocked her. Then, as we were leaving, we had to walk past G.P. and his family and friends, and I actually bumped into him. Remember, he was called for a bullshit foul that cost his team the game about an hour earlier. He gave me a look, and I honestly thought I was going to be on the news. ‘Idiot bumps into the Glove; gets knocked the fuck out….story at 10’. But I said “Sorry,” avoided eye contact, and just kept moving. All in all, a solid experience.)

**-Back to the Bulls-Nugs game. Even as Denver’s J.R. Smith continues to hit crazy shot after crazy shot, the Nuggets can’t get any closer than 6 down the stretch. The Bulls score over 30 in every quarter, winning 135-121. Its their highest total in a regulation game since 1998. Ben Gordon scored 37, while Thomas and Noah combined for 31 points, 21 rebounds, 5 blocks, and about 10 dunks. Melo and A.I both played well also. Easily the best game of the year for the Bulls. Good times.

Show Me What You Got

February 23, 2008

Rex Grossman

Rex Grossman signed a one-year contract to stay with the Bears for the 2008 season and compete with Kyle Orton for the starting position. Both showed glimmers of hope late in the season, with Orton replacing Grossman after his knee injury and leading the Bears to their only back-to-back wins of the season. Grossman passed for 913 yards with 3 TDs, 1 interception and an 80.2 passer rating in his second stint, a vast improvement after throwing for 500 yards with 1 TD, 6 interceptions and a 45.2 rating in the first three games. And it appears that kind of play is what allowed him to get an offer from Lovie Smith, Jerry Angelo, and the Bears.

Let me first say “Bravo” to Mr. Grossman. I really do hope he comes back and produces for the team. I hated him when he played bad and praised him when he played good, but we all know QB’s take the most abuse for when something goes wrong. Just look at all the crap Eli took in N.Y. before winning the Superbowl. I’m sure he’ll continue to get shit on if he doesn’t perform next season, too. But listen up, Rex: Eli DID lead his team to a Superbowl win, so no matter how great 2006 was, you won’t be respected around here unless you lead us back to the big game and win it.

Do I think that will happen in 2008? No. Rex and the QB situation isn’t my biggest area of concern. They have to fix a horrendous O-Line and actually get some production out of a running back before the offense will turn itself around. I made that comment in my post about Moose getting released. No matter what QB they have behind center, or even if they drafted a QB and started him, the line has to give them time and produce holes for the running back. Cedric Benson is not the answer, but you wonder what he could do with an amazing offensive line. I respect Adrian Peterson and he should definitely be for passing plays, but he’s a tandem back at best. And Garrett Wolfe is 5’2″ .

Its that simple, folks. Hester will return the ball for a TD or at least decent field position. A mediocre QB, given time behind the line and even with mediocre receivers, can complete passes, especially in our dump-pass offense. WE NEED TO ESTABLISH THE RUN. I don’t care what anyone’s feelings are about Thomas Jones: when he was here in 2006, he established the running game behind a much better O-Line which gave Rex time to have some monster games early on. I bet if we go back and analyze those later games where Rex imploded, we’ll see he was not given the same amount of time or support from the running game.

Its going to be a tough road to get back to 2006 status, but hey, we always have Devin to wow us. I hope Bradley, Benson/Peterson, and even Rex do, too.

Friday Hot Chick

February 22, 2008

Until recently, I wasn’t a big fan of Kate Beckinsale. I’ve always thought her to be attractive, but I never really thought she was FHC worthy.

Then, about 4 months ago, wwtdd ran a story which featured Kate going through security at an airport. And I’ll be damned if she didn’t have the cutest little bubble butt I’ve ever seen.

So here ya go. Kate Beckinsale, FHC.

*–She drinks Coke.
*–The dude in the background scares me.
*–I don’t love this picture, but it will do.
*–This one is playful.
*–Even tho its included in the wwtdd link, I just love this one.

I don’t feel great about this week’s FHC performance, so here is a NSFW shot of NWMJ favorite Vida Guerra.

BREAKING NEWS: Bulls trade one albatross for another

February 21, 2008

Just beating the trade deadline, the Bulls dealt Ben Wallace and Joe Smith to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Drew Gooden, Larry Hughes, Cedric Simmons, and Shannon Brown.

Seattle also dealt Wally Szerbiak and Delonte West to the Cavs for Adrian Griffin, Ira Newble, and Donyell Marshall as the third team in the deal.

Ben Wallace

Its truly a happy day in Chicago. Yes, I know that Larry Hughes is also an expensive piece of crap who shoots under 37 percent and doesn’t like to, well, pass the ball. And Drew Gooden is nothing special. But getting rid of the piece of absolute crap that is Ben Wallace is a great move in of itself.

Wallace was signed as a team leader, defensive beast and rebounding monster. Instead, in just under two seasons as a Bull, Wallace continuously clashed with management, threw teammates under the bus, and averaged 5.7 ppg and 9.5 rpg. Oh, and he was making nearly $15 million per year.

What do the Bulls do now? Eh, I don’t think it matters. Assuming Luol Deng and Ben Gordon are now healthy (which doesn’t seem likely considering both looked very uninterested and eager to get ‘re-injured’ last night), the Bulls rotation will include Deng, Gordon, Hinrich, Sefolosha, Nocioni, Gooden, Hughes, Noah, Duhon, and Tyrus Thomas, with a little bit of Aaron Gray and Cedric Simmons thrown in for good measure. Thats a whole lot of crap.

But at least Big Ben will no longer be clogging up the middle, doing absolutely nothing but missing wide open shots and tapping out totally grabbable rebounds to the opposing team. Now we get to watch Larry take 24 shitty shots before missing three weeks due to an injury. More entertaining, I think.

Random Observations

February 20, 2008

Some of my thoughts on whats been going on in the Chicago sports world lately:

*–The changes the Bears made this week, including the releases of Muhsin Muhammed and Fred Miller and the re-signing of Alex Brown, were all great moves. Muhammed was my most hated Bear the last two seasons. He came here on a big contract, which is fine. I don’t begrudge any athlete getting his money, especially after the great season Moose had in Carolina before he signed with the Bears. But what wasn’t fine was that when he first came here, he talked big about being a leader and a difference-maker. By the time the first half of his first season in Chicago was done, it was apparent that he was only as good as the guys around him. Not only that, but he didn’t hesitate to throw his quarterbacks under the bus whenever given the opportunity. Oh, and he dropped a shitload of passes. So good riddance, Moose.

But was he the main problem with the Bears? Absolutely not. The Bears don’t have a clear cut number one quarterback. I think they can contend for a playoff spot with Kyle Orton, but thats not saying much. I’m a Rex backer, but there is no way that this team can pencil him in as the clear cut number one if he is re-signed. The Bears’ running game is an absolute mess. They need at least 2, if not 3, new offensive linemen. Cedric Benson and Adrian Peterson are both second-rate players who shouldn’t be the feature back. Meanwhile, the Bears’ receiving corps is stocked with number two, three, and four receivers. Like it has been, pretty much, forever. Unfortunately, these problems aren’t going to fix themselves in one offseason. Unless the Bears find gold in the draft this year, expect at least one more putrid year.

*–As baseball approaches, I don’t know what to think about my White Sox. My brain tells me that they are going to suck, royally. But my heart is trying to believe they can contend in this division. Maybe one of the following starting pitchers–Gavin Floyd, Jose Contreras, Jon Danks–has a breakout campaign. Maybe the Sox trade Joe Crede for another arm (Noah Lowry), and that solidifies the rotation. Maybe all of the bullpen arms stay healthy and produce, and the Sox have arguably the best bullpen in the American League. Maybe Jay Mariotti gets bitten by a rat and contracts the Black Death. I can dream.

*–Starting today, the Bulls begin the second half of the season. They open against the New Jersey Nets, a team that recently traded its number one star and might only dress 8 or 9 guys. The Bulls should be getting back Ben Gordon and/or Luol Deng tonight or Friday against the Nuggets. If this squad was ever going to show that the first half of the season was a fluke, its time to show it now. Listen, I know nothing we have seen in the first half should provide us with any hope for the last 30 games. But maybe they make a little run in the second half, finish with the 6 seed or better, and actually play some interesting games in late April and May. I’m not asking for much. Either make the playoffs, or suck so badly that we get a top 5-7 pick.

*–After talking about my love for the Tennessee squad a couple weeks ago, they have climbed from number 7 in the nation to number 2, and they are traveling to Memphis Saturday night for a battle with the top-ranked Tigers. See, now I don’t want to pick them anymore. I think they are the best team in the country right now, but its like my love for Scarlett Johannson. I first started telling people about her in like 2002, after ‘Ghost World’. Then she started popping up as the hot chick in some bad movies, like ‘Lost in Translation’ (yes, that movie sucked), ‘The Perfect Score’, and ‘The Island’. Then she was rumored to have been given the backdoor business by Benecio del Toro (Bennie the Bull, as I like to call him) in an elevator after the Oscars, and now everyone loves her. Same with the Vols. I like their style of play, they look like a great team in December, I start talking about them, then two months later they’re on the verge of being number one in the country. Everyone loves them. Its bullshit. Its not special anymore.

I’m running out of ideas for the Friday Hot Chick, so if you have any thoughts/requests, let me know in the comments. And to the first commenter that suggests ‘Yo momma’: Fuck you.